Tips to Help Stuff Your Business with Customers All Year Long
This year, like many of you, we’re preparing to have a small crowd at our house for Thanksgiving. So as I'm writing this, my life is a mish-mosh of helping plan this event while also tackling my day job in the world of local business advertising. And somewhere between “please remember to make the RIGHT, non-fancy-schmancy kind of stuffing,” and, “Remember to account for geographic behavioral targeting in 2018,” I thought to myself – “You know, Dan, there are several similarities between Thanksgiving and Small/Local Business Advertising.”
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1. PLANNING & TIMING
I’m going to cook a turkey and many delicious side dishes. And I’d like to hope that all the ingredients would show up magically in my house on Thanksgiving morning without me listing them out, nor me coming up with a plating plan, getting idea of portions vs. people, etc. – but that's just unrealistic. A sound execution plan also involves timing...I sure don’t want the Turkey coming out too early (or late, for that matter!) Without a plan, you're likely get flustered, potentially messing up on something that should’ve been simple. Perhaps it leads to me missing a spice or two or accidentally grabbing tarragon instead of rosemary for the turkey...my dog may get stuck with way too many table scraps, which invites the additional potential embarrassment of not even her eating them.
The point is that advertising – it’s just like this very situation. You cannot expect your plan to materialize overnight on its own. Anyone who waits until the week before Black Friday to build and execute a full-blown holiday marketing plan is playing with a Turkey on fire. Your plans need to be laid out weeks ahead of time, with the right timing, cohesive messaging and a defined target audience. Most importantly, choose the right local partner to help you out on this – it’s ultimately them who will add the spice to the meal turning an otherwise ordinary plan (or bad one laced with tarragon targeted for the dog bowl) – into the campaign that delivers your message to the right audience, at the right time, giving you the results you hoped for from the get-go.
2. POST-DESSERT IMMOBILIZATION
After a successful run of delicious food and drink, you probably feel like getting right to your feet and doing the dishes – you just can’t wait to get going, right? No! You’re too busy digesting (and wondering if you’ll ever eat again). Much like this, unless you are only planning a yearly event, you cannot expect to run your advertising campaign and sit back to “digest the results” for very long. You may feel that way after a holiday advertising binge, but for your business, the truth is, there are likely no breaks, even if you are in a seasonal industry. There’s no time for a holiday hangover with a kitchen dripping with grease, scraps and assorted liquids. Nobody wants to come back to that kitchen except ants.
After that big campaign, prepare for the quiet(er) season by doing other things for your business like creating a blog or partnering with a charity – and whatever you do get your brand active socially. Use video to engage with your previous holiday customers and reel in new ones. The idea of doing these things help strengthen and reinforce your brand, and the key to succeeding here is very closely tied into the next Thanksgiving/advertising commonality which is…
Did you sit around digesting and forget to put the food away? Oh no you didn’t! You just invested heavily in a perfectly-cooked turkey and if all goes well, for the foreseeable future you’ll be just as invested in things like turkey sandwiches, turkey tacos, turkey soup, pot pies, frittatas, or even turkey pate.
The clients you invested in reaching are no different – so why would you seek to just get a seasonal use out of them? When they buy, give them some incentive to keep in touch with you, perhaps by signing them up to your email list. Send them deals for the next several months right up until your next holiday season. Stay top of mind with them – even though they may not buy right away, they could just be whip cream on the pumpkin pie atop all the new customers that come to you. Remember, a new customer costs FIVE TIMES the amount to acquire over a selling into a previous customer. Cooking up a new turkey for a few sandwiches or even buying sliced turkey from the store would hit your wallet harder than getting the most of what’s already there.
Ok, well sports in general. There really is no better way to engage an audience than with live sports. And Thanksgiving has almost become synonymous with Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions NFL games. Advertisers get themselves an audience who watches live 95% of the time when it comes to sports. It should be part of most any advertising campaign, much like pigskin is a major part of many people’s Thanksgiving. And by the way, if you think TV isn’t possible for your local business, think again – get an idea of the real cost of a local television commercial here. You’ll be shocked – nothing remotely close to the cost of a Super Bowl 30 second TV commercial if that’s what you’ve always assumed.
5. THE SEASONS, THEY ALWAYS RETURN
The seasons, they always return. I’ll burn some food item this year. I’ll go over and above on some dishes as well. But regardless, I’m going to learn from whatever I do so that next year (or whenever I’m allowed to host Thanksgiving again) I’ll be prepared to capitalize on all key learnings. Your business will also be back advertising next year during the holidays. Make note of what worked and what didn’t. How was the engagement with your mobile and online ads? Did you experience an increase in web traffic when your TV commercials ran? Did one message work better than others at a specific time? Was there a cohesive plan to my overall strategy?
The net of it is, if your business derives much of its revenues from the end-of-year holiday season, make a plan, keep in contact with your customers, engage them with sports when you can, and most importantly, ALWAYS go for the simple non-fancy-schmancy stuffing… because you never want to relive previous mistakes on such precious occasions.
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